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News: France not at risk from UK panic

Wed, 23 Jan 08

Agents in France are confident of avoiding a UK style property slowdown...

After a hectic 2005 followed by a sluggish 2006, the French property market has enjoyed a steady 12 months. While sellers have to be more realistic about what prices they can expect, buyers' budgets are up.

But with Britain talking itself into a property slump, could a UK housing crash spell the end of mass emigration to France and the collapse of the French holiday home market?

Or, could unstable British prices be good news for the French property market, with second-homers turning their backs on the increased risks of investing in Wales or the Cotswolds and opting instead for the predictable, no-great-gains but no-great-losses French market?

Nerves ‘holding steady’

Across the Channel in Normandy, where French agencies are expanding to cater for the Anglo-Saxon market, and it is de rigueur to have a British member of staff on the books, nerves are holding steady.

Traditionally popular with British buyers, thanks to its proximity to the UK, transport links and a countryside reminiscent of a bygone Britain, Normandy continues to attract UK buyers. British estate agents working for French agencies remain upbeat as they move into 2008.

Clare Comrie's of Immobilier du Château commented: “British clients account for about 60 per cent of the agency's business. We have coast on three sides up here, so gîtes and b&bs, if done well, are still successful with the bird life, countryside and, above all, the landing beaches as attractions”.

She added: "Buyers who are having problems selling their UK properties are finding increasingly imaginative ways of financing their move - such as 'three-year mortgages' - a type of bridging loan."

Ian Hayward, of Cabinet Marc Trouverie added: "I don't believe a slump in Britain is inevitable. I see headlines in the British press like, 'Property prices take biggest tumble for 15 years', but when you read on the actual slump was 0.2 per cent. The trouble is, this sort of manufactured panic can make a slump a self-fulfilling prophecy."

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